Working across time zones might be difficult for teams working in the same room or state—however, more people than ever before desire to work these days remotely. Therefore, team members working across borders and time zones may become the norm soon.
After all, having employees working across time zones is the equivalent of offering your organization a 24-hour workplace — with the top talent on the planet. Without the need for overtime or late-night shifts, teams can collaborate to fulfill deadlines. Employees in the one-time zone can hand over half-finished projects to peers in another time zone to finish.
In other words, you can get more done without losing quality. But only if you work together and communicate well. So, in today's blog, let me walk you through the best practices and working remotely tips and tools for companies having employees from different work time zones.
Whether you're a remote company with a centralized HQ and time zone or a totally distributed organization without any of them, follow these best practices while working across time zones:
When working with teams in different time zones, the most important thing to remember is to be mindful, empathic, and courteous.
No one should feel compelled to be alert when working across time zones constantly. Employees who do not establish clear work boundaries risk burning out, which negatively impacts the entire team's productivity, creativity, and collaboration.
To establish a good work-life balance for all team members, follow these steps:
This, as well as the next point, should be discussed early on in your virtual onboarding process:
During onboarding, make sure your communication policies and collaboration tools are properly defined and communicated. These rules can be reviewed and referred to by employees, so they know what to do and what is expected of them.
Your playbook should include information on:
To keep conversations consolidated, organized, and accessible, get everyone to use the same channels.
Trello, Basecamp, and Asana are project management tools that keep track of what everyone is working on as it progresses through the pipeline. Any team looking to boost remote cooperation while working across time zones should invest in one.
Tasks can be assigned, materials (such as spreadsheets, mockups, and slides) can be added, and deadlines can be defined. Team members will be aware of their responsibilities, effortlessly pick up duties, and leave comments/updates for their teammates to address throughout their shifts.
Everyone will have everything they need to get up and running as soon as they sign in for the day, regardless of what time it is.
Asynchronous communication should be the norm for remote teams working across time zones, especially those with personnel in multiple time zones.
Teams exchange messages with one other without expecting a response right away. Employees can give each response the time and attention it deserves when they take a break to check their messages. Employees may work independently, uninterrupted, and more productively as a result of this.
To excel at asynchronous communication, teams working across time zones must:
Let's imagine you sent a message that was vague or confusing because you rushed it out. It could take three to sixteen hours for the recipient to read it during their working hours. They'll have to message you for clarification, and you'll have to wait until you get back to work to respond.
By the time they read your second message and take action, an entire day (or more!) could have passed without them doing anything. This isn't how high-performing remote teams working across time zones collaborate.
So, before you send a message, consider the following:
Giving everyone what they need improves their ability to execute tasks alone and without seeking assistance.
Do you want to improve your message writing skills when your team is working across time zones? Next, use these suggestions to help your team communicate more effectively while working remotely.
Consider following the lead of the Arc development team[*] and providing a consistent set of emoji reactions. "I'm done working on that," "I agree with your proposal," and "Let me think about it and come back to you" are all emoticons they've designated.
Messages are clear and easy to grasp at a glance with just one simple emoji. These are also useful when your teammates don't all speak the same language.
Synchronous communication, or real-time communication between teams, is still necessary for team development, bonding, brainstorming, and celebrating project achievements.
So, while asynchronous methods should be used for 75% of your communication, leave 25% for synchronous methods like:
These moments will strengthen your team's bond, making working across time zones more productive. They also reinforce the culture of your organization.
It's nearly hard to arrange everyone to meet at the same time without inconveniencing someone if you don't have team members working in overlapping time zones. One person will have to regularly get up too early or stay online too late.
Therefore, it's reasonable to switch meeting schedules every month or quarter. This ensures that no single team is forced to make constant sacrifices to stay linked. It may also cause everyone to plan a meeting across time zones when they're the ones working unusual hours.
Meeting planning is made easier with tools like World Time Buddy and Time and Date. Simply enter your team's current locations, and these calculators will calculate the best times to meet (and even show local holidays being observed).
Before you plan another team meeting in different time zones, attempt to follow this routine to avoid the very real issue of Zoom fatigue:
Consider whether this truly needs to be a meeting. Real-time collaboration isn't always as efficient as we'd like it to be. So, before you ask others to alter their schedules, make sure the topic you're talking about truly requires everyone's presence.
Can a video recording help you express information more effectively? You can capture video messages of yourself, your screen, or both with tools like Loom and PingPong.
Without holding real-time meetings, you may send fast messages, explain new methods, and clarify complex topics with your team working across time zones. Everyone can look through these at their leisure, take notes, and return to your instructions or ask questions afterward.
Furthermore, some of the best practices for holding productive virtual team meetings include having a shared goal and describing what you expect to accomplish.
That's it about the tools and practices for collaborating across different time zones. Let's summarize now.
Remote work has gained momentum with the outbreak of Covid-19. The best practices for working across time zones are determining everyone's preferred work hours and time zone, creating a playbook for communication and collaboration, improving your asynchronous communication, allowing for synchronized communication, and following a meeting protocol in four steps.
The main project management tools include Trello, Basecamp, and Asana, which keep track of what everyone is working on as it progresses through the pipeline. You can use the tools and practices that are the best fit for your organization and make working across time zones a pleasurable experience for everybody.
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